‘Appeals in al-Bashir case would have no material effect’

A full bench led by Judge Dunstan Mlambo has re-iterated that government was obligated to arrest al-Bashir.

FILE: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Picture:AFP.

PRETORIA - In dismissing government's application for leave to appeal in the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir matter, the High Court in Pretoria has ruled that any appeal would have no material effect and would simply be academic.

A full bench led by Judge Dunstan Mlambo has re-iterated that government was obligated to arrest al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) where he's wanted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

The Sudanese president was visiting South Africa in June where he attended the African Union summit.

Judge Hans Fabricius referred to law which states that an appeal may only be granted if it is to have any practical effect.

"The facts before us are clear that there is no longer any life controversy between the parties. We are further of the opinion that the appeal will therefore have no practical effect between the parties. For this reason this application must fail."

Fabricius also read from the applicable legislation which makes it clear that al-Bashir could not have been granted immunity.

"For official capacity as head of state or government shall in no case exempt the person from criminal responsibility under the statute."

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has hailed the court's dismissal of government's bid to appeal the al-Bashir matter as a victory for the rule of law.

The DA's federal executive chairperson James Selfe says the court's decision is a damning indictment of the government's decision to allow al-Bashir to leave South Africa in the first place.

"The Democratic Alliance is very pleased at the north Gauteng High Court ruling this morning. We regard it as being a victory for the rule of law and due process in South Africa."

Meanwhile, the Southern African Litigation Centre says today's high court ruling on the al-Bashir debacle has upheld the correct precedent by re-affirming governments obligations to the ICC.

The centre's Angela Mudukuti says the ruling makes it clear that government has obligations to the ICC.

"We're thrilled with the results today. I think it's important that the right precedent has maintained and the judge has been very clear on that the previous judgment, indicating that South Africa's duty to arrest President al-Bashir, stands."

The Department of Justice's Mthunzi Mhaga says they're disappointed.

"We are of a firm view that the important issues have a bearing on public and international law. However, we will reflect on the judgment and all the issues that have been raised in a view to determine whether the judgement itself is appealable."

Government now has 20 days to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal.